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Vaccine alliance chief: Omicron could trigger ‘Inequity 2.0’ | Health and Fitness

CHAVANNES-DE-BOGIS, Switzerland (AP) — The head of vaccine alliance Gavi, which is leading a U.N.-backed push to get COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries, said that he’s seen early signs that rich countries are beginning to withhold donations out of fears about the omicron coronavirus variant — warning any new hoarding could lead to “Inequity 2.0.”

Gavi chief executive Dr. Seth Berkley took stock of the nearly two-year fight against the pandemic as the alliance released the latest update to its supply forecast for COVID-19 vaccines that it has repeatedly downscaled, largely because of export bans and vaccine hoarding by some producer countries that critics say it should have foreseen.

“With the omicron variant, what we’ve seen is panic in many countries that has led acceleration of boosters both to the numbers of people getting them, but also the timeline for getting them,” Berkley told The Associated Press in an interview late Tuesday at his home outside Geneva.

He was referring to extra doses given in rich countries to a broad swath of people — not just those at highest risk of contracting severe COVID-19.

The Geneva-based public-private partnership has been the lead manager of the U.N.-backed COVAX program that initially sought to get coronavirus vaccines to all countries but was pivoted after wealthier countries, and even some poorer ones, started striking their own deals to get jabs.

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